I call students to the gathering area. There is an air of excitement as students have mounds of evidence on their desks and stuck in the corners of the room for our showcase this afternoon. I tell students that I will be coming around to see each project and will be grading their projects based on the questions I ask them and the conversation we have about their learning.
I will also be roaming the room watching them present their learning to parents and visitors who attend the showcase. I tell students that there is no right and wrong way to present their learning. They need to relax and enjoy the experience of the showcase. Each one of them should be proud of all the work they have put into their projects.
Students set up the room in a circle and place their artifacts on their desks. Each child has a name plate and a topic written on a paper tent. Parents begin to arrive and other classes as well. Students begin to give their short presentations about what they did, how they did it, and what they learned. Soon the buzz is a roar as many people are talking. You can see students visibly relax as they realize they are each an expert on their topic.
I move from child to child as they become free to speak to me. We chat about their learning and I move on to the next child. Some students are surprised that I am not more formally asking them questions, but it is the informal conversation that relaxes them enough to truly share what they know.
Students move about the room and take notes from each other's presentations. The notes allow them to reflect on their own learning process and make notes on how they can extend their own learning process and make it deeper the next time around. I have half the students present and half move around the room for about 30 minutes each and then swap so everyone gets a chance to present and look at each other's work.
As visitors leave the room, I call all students back to the gathering area. Some students are still bubbling and talking about their work, others look visibly drained and tired. All look satisfied that they were able to share how and what they had learned.
I congratulate all students on a job well-done! They have worked hard and deserve to feel accomplished. I ask students if they would ever want to do this again. I get a resounding, "Yes!" from every student in the room.